Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Politics Are Us: Follow the Money

A recent comment by a reader on the NYC Education News listserve after I posted a link to George Schmidt's comments on Obama's education record in Chicago:

From what we've seen being played out in NYC public education, I've wondered if Barack's primary votes and money have been coming just from Democrats. After all, Republicans skewed the 2006 senate race in CT by crossing party lines so they could vote for Lieberman, and thus block his Democratic opponent. They were able to cross lines in Fro, independents could vote on either side in several of the early states, plus anyone can e-mail money to a candidate.

My suspicions are sadly confirmed by the ednotes article you sent. We already know that the GOP is incredibly active in privatizing the public school system, and, from Schmidt's perspective, Barack evidently supports that movement, along with its chief instrument, No Child Left Behind. Perhaps Ted Kennedy is supporting Barack as a way to preserve NCLB, which he co-sponsored. However, does that mean Kennedy is also inside the privatization loop, or is he too oblivious to see the uses for which NCLB has been co-opted?

That prompted this response:

Sorry, but this is absurd. Anyone who thinks that Obama's support is "Republicans crossing over" hasn't been paying attention, to what he says, to who is supporting him, to what is happening in our country.

I heard him speak a few weeks ago and he said, "we have to support our teachers, and pay them more. They should not have to only teach to the test. Children should have art, and music, and gym, and languages...,

Obama is running against the right, against Bush's policies, all down the line. Because he has excited and activated so many people, including young people, independents and those who are turned off by politics as usual, he actually could beat the Republican, in a landslide. And a landslide is what we'll need to turn the country around, including away from the attack on public education.

Which prompted this response from me:

I am pretty cynical about most politicians and subscribe to the belief expressed by that great political theorist Pete Townshend of The Who: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss/ I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again.

It is oh so easy for Obama to say teachers should get paid more.
Bloomberg said that too - as long as they put more time in and gave up chuncks of their contract.

And he thinks teachers shouldn't teach to the test?

Where did he ever take such a stand in Chicago his home base where that's what they do?
Chicago, where the BloomKlein style of reform began in 1995.

Has he played any role at all in diverting the attack on public education in Chicago?

The writer says to pay attention to who is supporting him. I say: "Follow the money."

George Schmidt, who clearly liked Obama as a man, squarley put him in the same camp as Daley/Bloomberg/Joel Klein camp. If you didn't get to his piece yet you can read it here.

Pray we don't get fooled again.

And if you admire Clinton, do not forget where Joel Klein came from. It is so easy to use rhetoric but always examine what politicians have done.

Trying to compare anyone to Bush makes them look good.

My wife works in the health field and she read Paul Krugman today and said she likes Clinton's universal health care plan better than Obama's and will vote for her on that basis.
I disagree. So what if Clinton says all the right things. I will bet a chunk of her money comes from the pharmecuticals and health care industry which will have to make a big buck out of any plan. Will Clinton/Obama be more loyal to the voters or to the people funding their campaigns? Any plan will be what the people who can profit from it says it will be. Follow the money.

But there are some differences if you believe the rhetoric. Take Cuba for instance, a place I got to visit legally in the late 70's when Jimmy Carter opened a brief window of liberalization.

John McAuliff, Executive Director. Fund for Reconciliation and Development writes:
Barack Obama has pledged unrestricted family travel and remittances, not just "easing" Bush restrictions of one visit every three years. He also has called for negotiations with Raul Castro without preconditions.
Hillary Clinton is Bush light on Cuba, seeming to take her cue from Sen. Bob Menendez and her Miami based Cuban American sister in law.Both candidates would do well to listen to the 2/3 of Americans who support normalization of relations and the right to travel to Cuba.

McAuliff's entire piece is here.

Two articles in the NY Times this past week on Bill Clinton and Obama were illuminating.

One delves into the actions of Obama when it came to a nuclear leak.

An excerpt:

"The history of the bill shows Mr. Obama navigating a home-state controversy that pitted two important constituencies against each other and tested his skills as a legislative infighter. On one side were neighbors of several nuclear plants upset that low-level radioactive leaks had gone unreported for years; on the other was Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator and one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money. Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns.

The complete article is here.

The other one is about Bill Clinton and a uranium deal in Kazakhstan that led to praise for a dictator, a big deal for a Canadian who contrubuted millions to Clinton's foundation in exchange for lending his prestige to the arrangement. I think Borat may have been at the same meeeting.

The article is here:

While the Obama piece is not as bad as the Clinton article, rereading both of them side by side makes me want to take a shower. Despite all this, there's a good chance I'll vote for Obama because no matter what he said or Clinton said, as someone who was 15 when Kennedy was elected and turned my generation onto politics, there is something in what Elena said about activating and inspiring young people. It probably won't last, but I'll get on my knees and pray they won't get fooled again.

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly enough, I came to many of these same conclusions after the NY Giants won the Super Bowl.


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